An Irish bride managed to have the wedding of her dreams without spending a penny – thanks to her love of competitions.
Claire Morton, of Belfast, spent two hours a day searching for competitions and opportunities on her computer and managed to win cash, make up, transport, a DJ and even her hen do.
She ended up having her dream wedding to milkman James for virtually no cost.
The pair enjoyed a £8,000 honeymoon in Orlando, Florida with the money the savvy bride managed to save.
She said: “James and I didn’t have a big budget for our day and I wanted to have the wedding of my dreams.
“I didn’t want to scrimp, so I decided to try and get as much as I could for free.
“Our wedding day looked like it had cost thousands, but actually all it cost me was the time I spent entering competitions.
“I want to tell other brides that they can save thousands just like me!”
The 33-year-old has begun to tell her story on a new blog ‘Penny Grower’ and thinks she could help cash strapped families if they follow her advice.
Claire’s story started on St Patrick’s Day 2015, when she and James got engaged. However, they didn’t start planning their wedding for another year.
At that point she began to worry about the mounting cost of getting married.
A friend told her about a messaging app called Tengi, which gives away cash prizes and she got her whole family to sign up.
The her amazement she won £10,000 just a month later and booked Belfast’s famous Europa Hotel, as well as hire a photographer, purchase rings and organise a registrar, invitations, flowers and outfits for her and James.
Unsurprisingly Claire developed a taste for competitions. She decided to enter every competition she could find, up to ten per day.
The hard work paid off as her winning streak continued. She won a £420 hen party along with hen party goodie packs which included a robe, slippers and decorations.
Claire said: “I was looking for any competitions relating to things that I knew we would need for the wedding.
“Usually it was just small companies because you have more chances of winning.”
She also won a DJ for her wedding reception, saving her £450. Other prizes included a VW camper van for transport worth £225 and a photo booth for guests worth £350.
The couple’s £350 wedding cake was a gift from Claire’s cousin.
Thanks to all of this, Claire and James didn’t spend any of their own money on their wedding and even had £200 in prize money left over to take on their honeymoon.
Since the wedding the couple have continued entering competitions and have won sports tickets, beauty treatments, alcohol and home appliances.
Claire said: “Our wedding day was totally amazing and we enjoyed every minute of it. It made us realise that we can be frugal in so many more ways.”
Claire’s competition prizes
Paid for with 10k cash prize
Photographer – £1,000
Suit – £120
Dress – £900
Dress alterations – £230
Flowers – £144.90
Registrar – £280
Rings (including a new engagement ring) – £3,350
Hotel/Venue/Meals/Evening Buffet/Bridal Suite – (28 day guests, 80+ evening guests) – £3,002
Shoes for myself, James & our daughter – £550
Our Daughters dress – £20
Day invitations – £5.99
Evening Invitations – £20
Tips for DJ, selfie mirror, camper van, dress alterations, make up – £110
Facebook competitions for the wedding
Smurfs Disco & entertainment – £450
Moondance wedding camper van – £225
Selfie Mirror company – £350
Wedding Cake with Perfection cakes Templepatrick – £350
Light Up heart – £100
Make up application – £60
Hullabloo Jewellery hen party £420
Honeymoon – paid for with savings
Harmony of the Seas cruise – £3,300
Flights – £1,700
Spending money £3,000
Facebook Competitions in 2016
£50 hair dressers voucher
Lancome gift set worth £250
Mens superdry sunglasses
David Beckham set
Northern Ireland t-shirt
£10 café voucher
Make up brush set
X8 cases of 1.5l bottles of volvic water
£20 eurospar voucher
Lipofreeze treatments (used before our wedding)
Kettle & toaster
£85 lifestyle sports voucher
Santa and reindeer ornaments
£250 love to shop vouchers
£75 goodie bag of perfume etc for a friend
X4 Ulster rugby tickets
£30 cinema vouchers
Box of crisps Candle and oil scents set – £60 value
Make up goodie bag
X2 tickets for a medium show
Butchers meat pack – £10 value
Facebook competitions in 2017
Butchers meat pack – £20 value
Emoji drinking card game
Cocoa mint sunglasses – £80 value
Butchers voucher – £20
Disney goodie bag
200 litres of oil
X2 John Bishop tickets
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling